Ninety per cent of UK lorry operators are not fully compliant with the Road Transport Directive, which came into force yesterday, according to new research.
The directive implements a compulsory 48-hour average working week on mobile workers in the transport industry. The consensus in the industry is that the weekly average currently exceeds 55 hours.
This means more staff are now required to do the same amount of work and company costs will rise, according to the study of 250 companies by the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
The survey also found that 77% of firms had sought to employ more drivers to meet the needs of the directive and maintain current levels of operation. And more than eight in 10 companies had also sought to employ additional non-driving staff to enable drivers to be dedicated to their core driving responsibilities.
According to the FTA, the biggest impact will be felt in areas already experiencing the most acute driver shortages, including the South East, East Midlands and the East of England.
However, the fact that 'periods of availability' - the times when drivers are available for work but not required - will not be counted as working time, will be very important in limiting the effects of the directive, according to the FTA.
James Hookham, FTA policy director, said: "Given that the regulations were only published in mid-March, it is not surprising that only one in 10 companies currently consider themselves compliant."